By Simón Rios
Posted Nov. 28, 2014 @ 2:01 am
In a move officials say will bring more wind turbine activity to the city, the budget for South Terminal was increased by $10 million to widen the channel and accommodate larger vessels.
The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center said changes in the schedule of the Cape Wind project, America’s future first offshore wind farm, mean New Bedford will now receive all of the components needed to erect wind turbines in the ocean.
From its original width of 225 feet, South Terminal’s channel is now 300 feet wide.
Mass CEC’s Bill White, who is overseeing construction of the Marine Commerce Terminal in New Bedford, said Cape Wind’s schedule was “pushed back,” giving developers more time to work.
“When we started the project in April 2013, it was envisioned that Cape Wind was going to be on a shorter time frame.”
Cape Wind officials could not be reached the day before Thanksgiving. But White said Cape Wind will now receive components for the turbines’ foundations, which will arrive on ships that require greater clearance.
Originally planned to accommodate vessels like the 469 foot long BBC Mississippi, the newly dredged and blasted channel will now be able to accommodate a 553 foot long ship, which transports monopile foundations and transition pieces.
Those components were previously to be shipped to Quonset Point in North Kingston, RI, White said. With that in mind, the channel for South Terminal was built to 225 feet — 75 feet short of what would ultimately be required.
Mass CEC portends to be the epicenter of the offshore wind industry — but the original blueprint didn’t accommodate all the respective vessels that fit through the hurricane barrier. But White said the design was done in consultation with “European experts” and the Army Corps of Engineers, and Quonset was seen as the destination for the larger ships.
The Quonset Development Corp. voted in July to approve a lease option with Cape Wind for two parcels of land at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingston. David Preston, spokesperson for QDC, said Cape Wind has an option on a parcel in the Quonset Business Park, but didn’t give further details, saying, “we look forward to seeing with the final disposition is.”
Mass CEC got the green light for the widening from MassDOT and the state Energy and Environmental Affairs office.
The project resulted in additional cleanup of 30,000 cubic yards of PCB contaminated sediments, Mass CEC said.
State Rep. Bill Straus, D-Mattapoisett, who chairs the transportation committee, applauded the expansion of the channel for reasons beyond wind turbines.
“To me, it makes it all that more valuable of an asset,” Straus said.
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By Simón Rios